January 18, 2015

Afternoons in London// Hampstead

Located on the edge of 790 acres of wild and unspoilt Hampstead Heath, Hampstead is a pristinely beautiful escape from the business of central London. In the days when tuberculosis and cholera ravaged London, the rich moved to Hampstead- the highest spot in London. The result is a charming area of stately brick homes, many of which were inhabited by historical figures such as Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Wells and Daphne du Maurier. 
The parish church of St. John-at-Hampstead was said to be the inspiration for the novel Dracula and it's easy to see why when you wander through the crooked gravestones covered in creeping ivy and moss. The spookiness continues as you leave the cemetery and walk down Church Row which is said to be haunted by the ghost of a maid who murdered a child and then smuggled the body out in a rug.
Continue uphill and you will discover the Pergola Hill and Garden where you can walk along the covered walkway that is covered in rambling plants and vines. Even during the winter, the architecture and solitude makes this hidden treasure an exciting place to explore. Once your fingers are frozen, head back down the hill to the main street and pop into Ginger and White for a coffee and a thick slice of their frosted gingerbread. 

December 15, 2014

Letters From// People I've Loved

I discovered this little stationery company through their Instagram and instantly fell in love with their puns and adorable cards.
"People I've Loved 's works (or pressing issues) intend to facilitate the communication between real, tactile people. Not that we want to deny people their digital selves, we just think there can be room for both. We are “in search of the miraculous” yet tragic definition of what it means to exist, in this time and space. And feel that we should make time to share it."

Underneath that amazing mission statement, they put out an offer that if you email them your name and address, they will send you something real. I was instantly intrigued and sent them my address, but I didn't really expect anything to come of it. How wrong I was. Within one week, I got a hand lettered envelope that even had an extra drawing on it. Inside was a card, a hand written note and two adorable little pieces of their art. I was just grinning ear to ear and this was from someone I didn't even know. I think they sell their cards in a couple places here in London so I will definitely keep my eyes open.
I just love how much letter love I am seeing lately! The Free People blog just posted a piece about sending mail to any random address just to spark a connection or maybe gain some local knowledge of a place you're wanting to travel.

A Beautiful Mess has a subscription called Happy Mail where you get a monthly dose of cards, postcards and other stationery goodies. Their cards are all SO cute! I am seriously tempted to sign up.

And More Love Letters is doing 12 Days of Letter Writing for Christmas where you can write letters for people you've never met but whose stories will totally make you tear up.

Snail mail is coming back, guys. Are you inspired to write any letters this week? 

December 13, 2014

Journal// Weekly Faves

It's the weekend and my Christmas break has officially begun!  This week I've been:

inspired by: this holiday gif by the illustrator Rebecca Mock. I just discovered her work and love this little holiday piece of gift wrapping with your- wait for it- kitty!

reading: The Happiness of Pursuit

listening to: All My Bells are Ringing by Lenka. Plus all the other Christmas playlists I can find.

drinking: Earl Gray tea. I've developed a naughty habit of adding sweetened condensed milk and a dash of vanilla to my earl gray tea and it tastes just like the Starbucks earl gray lattes...so good.

making: Dark Molasses Gingerbread Cake. This was my first baking adventure in my little apartment. Pretty sure I spent an hour at the grocery store trying to find all the ingredients and then translating English into American. Did you know "treacle" is molasses? Neither did I.

hanging out at: Black Sheep Coffee. Because this is the first place I've been where the baristas actually smile at you. I think it's because most of them are from New Zealand. I don't even put my earbuds in because I love just listening to them talk. Also they have a real Christmas tree set up. What more could you want from a coffee place?

feeling: so excited that my family will soon be here to celebrate Christmas with me here in London!

Let me know what you've been loving this week! I hope you all had a festive week and have a wonderful weekend! 

December 8, 2014

Downloads// December Wallpapers

Tis the season to deck your halls and all your devices. I might be slightly addicted to changing out my wallpapers every season, but Christmas seems like an especially perfect time to bring some designs to your phone or computer. Here are 12 of my favorite desktops from around the web- just click on the links to download the images. I also tried my hand at creating my own because I was feeling so inspired after seeing all these gorgeous designs.
1. iPhone wallpapers from Creative Index
2. Graphic Ornaments from Sarah Hearts
3. Woodland Love from Oana Befort
4. Silver Forest from Going Home to Roost
5. Foxy Forest from Oh So Beautiful Paper
6. Nesting Animals from Think Make Share
7. Red Wreath from Ashley Proffitt
8. Tiny Stars from Redstamp
9. Gold Stripes from Dear Lovely
10. Bold Wreath from Oh So Lovely
11. Geometric Stripes from Nicole's Classes
12. Classy December from Cocorrina
13, Tangled Lights- that one's mine!

Which one is your guys' favorite? 

December 7, 2014

Weekly Goals// Stay Focused

This afternoon I went to a Christmas market in Belgravia and couldn't resist a gingerbread man. He was just so adorable, look at that smile! Note: he was also delicious.
This week, I decided to share my goals for the week. It helps to break down big goals into more manageable, week-sized pieces. Also, writing down your goals is a good way to stay accountable and stay focused. So, without further ado, my goals for this week:

  1. Make more art. Aim for at least 10 hours this week. I've gotten so carried away with Christmas crafty projects and I've been completely neglecting my "real" art.
  2. Practice French everyday. I've gotten hooked on the language app Duolingo and so I am working on brushing up my super rusty French.
  3. Finish one book. With sunset at 4pm right now, I can feel myself going into hibernation mode. Must fight the urge to fall asleep!
  4. Get up early. I actually love mornings the idea of mornings and having enough time to myself to journal, stretch, eat breakfast before class but somehow I keep finding my bed much more convincing.
  5. Finish virtual travel journal. This is a project I have been putting off for forever and I really want to just buckle down and knock it out because I know it will be so cool when I finish it!
Based on the pictures above, I should probably put "paint my nails" on my weekly goal list too...yikes. What are you guys working on this week? And advice on how to stay on track with those goals?

December 4, 2014

DIY// Gold Feather Garland

Anthroplogie is the best, always. Sometimes I just wander through there on my way to do an actual errand just so I can get inspired by the displays and decor. And it always smells amazing in there. Right now there is a candle in there that might be cranberry and I am addicted. Seriously, three floors of heaven. Since I can't move in there permanently, I wanted to try and make the feather "curtain" they have up for the holidays. Essentially just a chain of golden wire frames dangling from a branch, this DIY project was easy to make and just took some time to cut out the feathers and then attach the wire frames together. The hardest part was finding a branch, but I went to the park super early in the morning and only got a few odd looks from people as I carried my branch home.

December 3, 2014

Festive// Christmas Cards

I finished designing my Christmas postcards! I wanted something with bit of London and some hand-lettering, obviously. Now I'm trying to find all my addresses and get these in the mail this week!
I should organize my contacts.
Seems I have lost misplaced quite a few important addresses.

December 2, 2014

Draw 20// Ornaments

Have any of you every ventured into the world of Google Scholar? It is a dry, sandy desert with pages and pages of PDF torture. After spending my whole day trying to keep my eyes from glazing over while researching and writing an essay, I definitely needed a drawing challenge. Ironically, my new project is going to be on emotion and creativity. But by the end of the day, the only thing I was feeling was emotionally drained. I saw a book in Anthropologie called 20 Ways to Draw a Tree and it is a collection of drawing prompts where you draw 20 of something. I love this idea because there is no pressure in getting one perfect drawing. Just keep playing and experimenting with the same subject and you're probably going to end up with at least a couple sketches you like. Obviously, I am in the Christmas spirit so here are 20 ornaments. The tassel ones are my favorite.

December 1, 2014

Just Finished: The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

The Defining Decade is exactly the book I needed to read this year. It was relatable, motivating and completely terrifying.

Everywhere I look right now there are articles about how we should "take advantage" of the twenty-something years to not commit to a career, not get married, and not settle down.

However, the way we spend our twenties is ridiculously crucial to determining how the rest of our lives turns out. Jay says that all that is very misleading and that the twenties are not an irrelevant downtime but a time to develop into adults. She takes about the irony about how we are taught to feel that our twenty-somethings are not that consequential.

There is a big difference between having a life in your thirties and starting a life in your thirties.

With about 80% of life's most significant events taking place by age 35, as thirty-somethings and beyond we largely either continue with or correct for, the moves we made during our twenty-something years. Instead of using this time as an excuse to have an identity crisis, she says to get some capital: "do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that's an investment in who you might want to be next.”

The whole book was hard- hitting, but necessary to hear. She says that being confused about choices is nothing more than hoping that maybe there is a way to get through life without taking charge. So essentially, quit whining that you don't know what you want to do with your life and start making your life happen. "Make yourself interesting. Make yourself relevant. Do your homework so you know precisely what you want or need." From looking at marriage as a way to choose the family you want, being aware of how little time there is to have kids, and setting yourself a realistic life timeline, this was one of the best books I have read. It was brutally honest and exactly what I needed to start thinking about.

"The future isn't written in the stars. There are no guarantees. So claim your adulthood. Be intentional. Get to work. Pick your family. Do the math. Make your own certainty. Don't be defined by what you didn't know or didn't do. You are deciding your life right now.

Have the courage to know what you want."

I am now extremely motivated to knock out a 30 Before 30 list. 

November 4, 2014

Crooked Houses, GIngerbread Coffee and Punting in Canterbury

This week. Words fail. I am not a fan of procrastination nor am I fan of working under pressure and this week, thanks to several group projects I am dealing with both. Neither very well. Nothing is worse than a bad day except for the day before you know will be a bad day. Anticipation in the worst possible way. However, last weekend was a wonderful little getaway to Canterbury. I had no idea there was so much history in Canterbury. Everything was there from Roman ruins, Norman castles and some of the best Mexican food I've ever had!
Even though half of the city was destroyed during World War II, the old streets and buildings still look like something out of a fairytale. Crooked walls and windows give the impression all those old buildings are slouching a little bit.
One of the most unusual things about Canterbury is all the walls and buildings made out of flint. There is no stone in the area, only flint and it gives the buildings a very unusual, bumpy texture.
Get tea at The Moat Tea Rooms which are in one of the oldest buildings in Canterbury. The stairs are narrow and the walls and ceilings slope at all different angles for an Alice in Wonderland-type tea party. The millionaire bars are amazing and the rose black tea was perfect for warming up after running around in the rain sight-seeing the cathedral.
The Canterbury Cathedral is one of the biggest cathedrals I've ever been in. I was lucky enough to be there while the choir was practicing for a performance and the acoustics were incredible. There were little kids in the choir too; later I learned from a chatty man in the bookstore that those kids commit five years to being in the choir from age 8-13. 
I am currently addicted to free walking tours. You learn so much from the leaders like the fact that the tower of the cathedral is made of brick with a sneaky stone covering to deal with the weight issue.
Once I stopped chucking at the word "punting" I really wanted to do the canal tour through Canterbury. The water is only a few feet deep so the boats are pushing along with a long pole by a guide wearing a hard hat shaped like a cowboy hat. The sun came out, it was beautiful and a perfectly relaxing way to spend forty minutes.
As well as offering boat tours of the town, Water Lane Coffee also offers amazing espresso. On Sunday it was just pouring rain, so it was the perfect place to curl up on their leather Chesterfields with a book and watch the world go by.